25 November 2016 - Security Council mission to the DRC: The DRC is at a turning point in its history [fr]
Security Council Mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Anglo - Speech of Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - 25 November 2016
First and foremost, allow me to warmly thank the Secretariat, in particular the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), for having made possible the Security Council’s mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola from 11 to 14 November. I would also like to thank the Senegalese presidency. We would like to continue working with the Secretariat to learn all that we can from that important mission. I also sincerely thank Angola for the solid partnership we forged as we travelled from Kinshasa to Beni and then to Luanda. I will focus my remarks on our visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The Security Council visited that country in order to have discussions with national stakeholders about the country’s current political situation, given the recent unrest caused by the delay in the electoral process, as well as about the security challenges related, in particular to protecting civilians and combating armed groups in the east of the country. As I mentioned, the Council visited Kinshasa and Beni, in North Kivu. In Kinshasa, the Security Council met with a wide range of actors. In particular, the Council met with the President, the Prime Minister, representatives of the presidential majority, the opposition that signed the 18 October agreement and those that did not sign it. We were also able to meet with the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (CENCO), representatives of human rights organizations, youth associations and women’s associations. We also had a very useful exchange with the leadership of MONUSCO. In Beni, the Council was able to meet with the different representatives of MONUSCO, the Governors of North and South Kivu as well as the Mayor of Beni and the commanders of the Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo. The Council also met with representatives of local populations who were victims of the recent atrocities.
To try to draw with the main lessons of the mission, the mission made it possible for the Security Council to convey two messages. The first message was that the Democratic Republic of the Congo is at a turning point in its history: for the first time, a peaceful transition of power following President Kabila’s term is possible. This in itself is reason for hope, but to achieve it all the political forces of the country will need to unite in order to respond to the wishes of the Congolese people. Dialogue remains the best possible way to overcome the differences that remain. The second message that we were able to convey was that holding free, fair, credible, open, transparent and peaceful elections as soon as possible, in accordance with the Congolese Constitution, is something that everyone is expecting. It is now up to all political forces to ensure that the country remains on the path of peace and of strengthening its democratic institutions.
In response to those messages, which were delivered in a very united way by all members of the Security Council, all the Council’s interlocutors expressed their wish to avoid a new episode of violence after the tragic events of 19 and 20 September 2016. They assured us of their readiness to continue discussions following the 18 October agreement in a more sweeping and inclusive framework to reach a clear and precise road map based on a broad consensus that would make it possible to achieve a transition within a specific timetable.
The Security Council clearly encouraged all actors to continue these discussions so that the electoral process could take place in a peaceful climate and in a spirit of consensus that brings together all the political forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Council also encouraged the parties to take the necessary confidence-building measures, such as the suspension of judicial proceedings undertaken for political ends, freeing political prisoners, a clear commitment by everyone to respecting the Constitution, and the opening of the political space to allow for discussions to be held in peaceful conditions and come to a quick and positive conclusion.
The Council also called for this process to be accompanied by a free and constructive political debate, where freedom of opinion, assembly and fair access to the media are guaranteed and where security and freedom of movement are also ensured. The Security Council called on the Congolese authorities to restore the broadcast signal of Radio France Internationale and to lift the ban on demonstrations. It also called on the opposition forces, for their part, to act responsibly and ensure that their demonstrations would be peaceful.
That is the overall message that together the 15 members of the Council transmitted to all the political actors that we met. Compromises will be necessary on both sides, and we hope that the spirit of responsibility in the political leaders will prevail. The mediation currently being carried out by CENCO deserves our support. It has the potential to bring the parties to the compromise necessary for the Democratic Republic of the Congo to experience a peaceful transition after 19 December.
The Council remains aware of the situation of the civilian populations in the east of the country. Everything must be done to protect them. This was also an essential component of our visit. The Security Council visited Beni for the first time in order to express its solidarity with the victims of the recent violence. We attached particular interest to making this point. The atrocities committed in the region over the past two years are a challenge for all of us, for human dignity, for peace and stability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in the region as a whole.
In eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, there will be no lasting security as long as illegal armed groups continue to operate in the region. The Council was able to see that this is a problem that requires a comprehensive response: it will have a military aspect, thanks to MONUSCO and to the Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo, which are fighting on the ground, as well as political and legal aspects, in the form of combating illegal trafficking in natural resources and shutting down the predatory networks that enable these groups to survive and of prosecuting perpetrators of atrocities. Collaboration among the countries of the region is essential to achieve those objectives.
In that context, the Council expressed its strong support for MONUSCO, which had been targeted on 8 November by an unprecedented attack. We also heard the message of representatives of civil society in Beni, which called for the Mission to be more effective. It must indeed adapt to the new challenges and show greater robustness and flexibility in order to be as effective as possible. This was the subject of the Council’s discussions with the commanders of MONUSCO, and we will pursue this task in coordination with the Secretariat. The Security Council has great confidence in MONUSCO, which can count on the Council’s support in this phase where it must adapt to new challenges.
Those are some of the main conclusions and lessons learned that I wanted to call to your attention, Mr. President.